Are you wondering what the divorce process in Singapore is like?
Requirements for Divorce in Singapore
Before we touch on the divorce process in Singapore, we will explain the requirements for getting a divorce in Singapore.
To be eligible for divorce in Singapore, the following requirements must be met:
1. Either party must be a Singapore citizen/ lived in Singapore for the past 3 years immediately prior to the filing of the divorce.
2. Parties must be married for a minimum period of 3 years, unless there are exceptional reasons for parties to file for divorce early.
Ground for Divorce
1. Proving your spouse’s adultery.
2. Proving your spouse’s unreasonable behaviour.
3. Proving that your spouse has deserted you for a minimum period of 2 years.
4. Proving that parties have been separated for at least 3 years (if both parties consent to the divorce) or that parties have been separated for at least 4 years (if one party does not consent to the divorce).
Uncontested Divorce Process in Singapore
If you and your spouse agree on the divorce and the terms of the divorce, the uncontested divorce process in Singapore will apply.
Your divorce lawyer will advise you, prepare the divorce papers in accordance to your agreement with your spouse and arrange for the papers to be signed before a Commissioner of Oaths. After the signing, the signed papers will be submitted to Court. A hearing date will be fixed and the Court will grant the divorce judgments (i.e. the Interim Judgment and the Final Judgment).
It takes approximately 4 months from the time the papers are submitted to the Family Justice Courts to the conclusion of the uncontested divorce process in Singapore.
Contested Divorce Process in Singapore
Should there be a disagreement on the divorce and/ or the terms of the divorce, you will need to go through the contested divorce process in Singapore.
If you have at least 1 child under the age of 21, you will need to attend the Mandatory Parenting Programme. This is only applicable for the contested divorce process in Singapore. Through the Mandatory Parenting Programme (which is free-of-charge and conducted by counsellors from the Divorce Support Specialist Agency), you will be able to make informed decisions on your children’s needs and well-being. The Mandatory Parenting Programme portal is found here.
The contested divorce process in Singapore is broken down into 2 stages. At stage 1, the Court will decide if there are sufficient grounds for the divorce. At stage 2, the Court will decide on ancillary matters involving the custody of children, division of assets and payment of maintenance (child and spouse).
The party commencing the divorce proceedings is known as the Plaintiff while the other party is known as the Defendant.
The following documents will need to be filed in the Family Justice Courts to start the contested divorce process in Singapore:
1. Writ of Divorce: to commence divorce proceedings.
2. Statement of Claim: a statement showing the particulars of the parties and the Plaintiff’s claims on ancillary issues (for e.g. if the party is claiming for custody of the child).
3. Statement of Particulars: a statement detailing the Plaintiff’s ground for divorce. Through this document, the Plaintiff will demonstrate how the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
4. Proposed Parenting Plan: the Plaintiff’s proposals on parenting issues.
5. Proposed Matrimonial Property Plan (only for parties with a HDB matrimonial flat): the Plaintiff’s proposals on issues concerning parties’ HDB flat (if any).
After the abovementioned documents are submitted to Court, the documents will be served on the Defendant personally. If the Defendant chooses to contest the divorce, he/ she will need to file a document known as Memorandum of Appearance within 8 days upon receipt of the divorce documents.
The Defendant should also file a Defence and/ or Counterclaim to the Plaintiff’s Statement of Facts within 22 days upon receipt of the divorce documents. The Defence will be drafted to oppose the Plaintiff’s version of facts in the Statement of Particulars and the Counterclaim will be filed if the Defendant wishes to put forth his/ her reasons for the divorce.
In many cases, parties will choose to attend mediation/ counselling to resolve the divorce amicably.
If the Court is convinced that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, the Court will grant an Interim Judgment. The case will then move on to stage 2 of the contested divorce process in Singapore.
Prior to the Court hearing the ancillary issues, parties will be required to file and exchange 2 rounds of Affidavit of Assets and Means. In these Affidavits, the parties will disclose their assets/ liabilities, incomes and expenses. It is also possible for parties to make applications for further disclosures of documents (discovery) and information (interrogatories).
After the ancillary matters hearing, either party can apply to Court for the Final Judgment. This marks the end of the contested divorce process in Singapore.
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